Place-Based Learning


This year more than ever, young people will be craving learning experiences that are relevant, engaging, inspiring, and empowering.  These kinds of experiences are often found outside the classroom. Researchers have proved this “field trip effect” in regional and national studies showing that immersive experiences increase learning engagement and retention for students--particularly for those who are not reached as well by traditional methods.

These immersive events can be so-called peak experiences that shift a person’s thoughts and feelings and allow them to connect with an idea in a deep, emotional way. The learning science behind peak experiences is described in a White Paper by High Resolves. With field trips largely cancelled for the current school year,  Museums are pivoting to offer such peak experiences online.

Child in museum


In every city, there are hundreds of arts and cultural institutions ready to provide experiences to students, but there are logistical barriers that get in the way: Teachers don’t know what is available, museums don’t know what teachers and students need, and we are all still learning how to make good learning available online.


There are efforts underway across the nation to both ramp up history and civic education (e.g. the Educating for American Democracy Project) and to engage museums as drivers of a new connection with history (Made By Us). We as a Collaborative work across these systems to support museums and historic sites in becoming incubators of civic engagement and sites of deep learning. We have developed templates for youth-led action projects in museums together with Getting Smart, and are creating a playbook for Museums to support real-world learning in support of the Educating for American Democracy framework.

Enable high impact youth development through active place-based learning.

Place-Based Projects for Real World Learning

Project-based, hands-on learning has been proven to be highly effective in developing young peoples' sense of identity, belonging, community and agency.  Projects that allow young students to play an active role in their communities are critical to their development as engaged and inspired community members.  Together with the Kauffman Foundation's Real World Learning project, we have piloted the use of community based project learning in history and social studies.

We have created templates that streamline the planning process for projects that connect schools with community institutions. We help frame these projects through a competency-based learning lens, shifting the traditional approach to museum learning from the consumption of information to active engagement in the institutions as civic participants. We are in the process of compiling a library of templates, see below for a sampling.

Place-Based Learning

Tours Template (Generic)

In this project, students are asked to help conduct research and create content on local tours that will connect members of our community with the sites and assets of our city and state. These tours can be part of an app, a website or an institution’s tour collection.

Google Doc
Place-Based Learning

Teen Takeover

During this project module, teens learn about the inner workings of cultural institutions, explore a topic of interest to them, and produce an exhibit (or other project) within the space on that topic. Using this guide, you will be able to justify this program to your co-workers; prepare for the arrival of your group; guide your group through a fun, intellectual, and community-building program; and evaluate your results.

Google Doc
Place-Based Learning

Virtual Exhibit Design

In this project, students are asked to conduct research and create a proposal and presentation for an original virtual exhibit that could be displayed on www.kansascityfed.org/moneymuseum. This activity is hosted by the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Google Doc


We are committed to ensuring that all young people grow up as empathetic critical thinkers so that they can thrive in, contribute to our complex and rapidly changing world. This has three pillars:

Inspired Inquiry


Placed Based Learning


Civic Learning Activities